The discovery creates a helpful visualization of a previously misunderstood process in the universe.
By United with Israel Staff
An international team led by astrophysicist Dr. Nicholas Stone of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor Nathan Leigh of Chile’s Universidad de Concepción published a paper in the journal Nature last week that presents a novel solution to a centuries-old physics conundrum called “The Three-Body Problem.”
Dr. Stone and his colleagues used traditional mathematics to demonstrate the movement of three equal-sized planets in the solar system, an outcome that physicists have struggled to predict since Sir Isaac Newton introduced the laws of motion over three centuries ago.
By way of background, one of Newton’s key contributions was knowledge about how planets operate in the solar system, and specifically how the earth orbits the sun.
Traditionally, physicists have struggled to calculate the movement of three bodies of the same size and distance orbiting a central point, such as the sun, because they thought that this scenario would push the system into chaos.
To solve this problem, Stone used an analytical and statistical solution that helps “visualize [this] complicated process,” disproving the chaos hypothesis.
According to a statement posted by Hebrew University, Stone and his team hope their “pen-and-paper solution” will be “useful to astrophysicists and others who want a practical way to study triples of stars, black holes, or other objects in the Universe.”
Stone added, “[W]e are happy to have made some progress on this venerable problem.”
“When we compared our predictions to computer-generated models of their actual movements, we found a high degree of accuracy,” Stone said.
Though the researchers admit that their findings “don’t represent an exact solution to the three-body problem,” they hope that it will help physicists to better visualize these complicated processes.
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